Hyatt has announced this morning that they have a new head of global loyalty. It appears that the role is a bit different from the one occupied by previous head of loyalty Jeff Zidell. The position has been elevated to Executive Vice-President and it reports directly to Mark Hoplamazian.
Hyatt announced they have selected Mark Vondrasek, a veteran of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Here’s a bit from the press release:
“Mark’s successful track record, working in a brand-led, global organization makes him the ideal candidate for this role,” said Hoplamazian. “We are fortunate to welcome a leader with a reputation for transformation who can accelerate Hyatt’s loyalty platform, advance innovative products and expand Hyatt’s partnerships. This work is critical to our experience-based growth strategy and will deepen the relationship we have with our existing guests as well as expand our base of customers.”
Vondrasek joins Hyatt with more than 25 years of experience in building strong brands through the effective integration of marketing and operations. Most recently, he spent 15 years in leadership roles at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the latest of which as senior vice president and commercial services officer. In the position, Vondrasek was responsible for the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program, 10 customer contact centers, mobile applications, digital initiatives, business-to-business sales strategy, revenue management and sales. During his tenure at Starwood, he spearheaded many of the company’s most successful loyalty initiatives as well as oversaw Starwood’s strategic marketing partnerships. Vondrasek also held previous roles at Northern Trust, Fidelity Investments and Kemper Financial Services.
I didn’t know Mark when he was at Starwood. Chris Holdren, who ran SPG, was who I had most of my contact with. I believe he may have reported to Mark. Starwood consistently did well at the Freddie Awards, a popular favorite with the frequent traveler. I can’t say for certain how much of the success was due to Mark, Chris or others on the management team.
Plenty of folks were left without jobs when Marriott acquired Starwood. Mark’s arrival at Hyatt could signal more SPG folks finding a home there.
I think it’s fair to say there’s been some teeth-gnashing about the rollout of Hyatt’s new loyalty program. World of Hyatt continues to be very rewarding for me as a top-tier elite. However, I do think there are some challenges at hand to get buy-in from mid-tier elite frequent travelers.
The Final Two Pennies
SPG did plenty of innovative things when Mark was with them. At the same time, Jeff Zidell is my gold standard for how to build loyalty. There’s a lot more of this story to write. I’ll be catching up with Mark via phone in the coming days. I look forward to sharing some of his thoughts with all of you.
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